FORT HOOD, Texas — Monday marked two months since Army Pfc. Vanessa Guillen was seen alive and top brass at Fort Hood, where the 20-year-old is stationed, issued a plea on Sunday for help finding the missing soldier.
Major Gen. Scott Efflandt, deputy commanding general of the Texas military base, appeared via video Sunday night to ask the public for help.
“We want to bring Vanessa home as efficiently and as rapidly as possible. And towards that end, I’m asking for your assistance,” Efflandt said. “Somebody, some person out there, has the piece of information we need to bring Vanessa home.”
Efflandt said the Army will continue to search for Guillen, a native of Houston, as it has done since she vanished April 22. Guillen, a small arms and artillery repairer for the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, was last seen around 1 p.m. that day in the parking lot of the Regimental Engineer Squadron Headquarters on Fort Hood.
“Her car keys, barracks room key, identification card and wallet were later found in the armory room where she was working earlier in the day,” an Army CID news release said. “She was last seen wearing a black T-shirt and purple fitness-type pants.”
Military and civilian law enforcement, as well as Fort Hood military members, have conducted extensive searches for Guillen over the past two months. Efflandt said those efforts would not stop until Guillen is found.
“We need to bring Vanessa back to her Army family, and to bring her back to her family,” he said. “We won’t stop this effort until we’re successful.”
Efflandt’s plea comes amid an investigation into allegations that Guillen was suffering sexual harassment on the base. Fort Hood officials announced Thursday that a criminal investigation had been launched into the claims.
Natalie Khawam, an attorney representing Guillen’s family, told ABC 13 in Houston that she’s learned of at least two incidents. In the first, a superior allegedly walked in on Guillen while she was showering.
In the second, another superior made vulgar remarks to the soldier in Spanish. Guillen is Hispanic.
“The facts aren’t good. I don’t like them,” Khawam told the news station. “There were a few incidents where she had told her colleagues, her friends, her family about being sexually harassed, but she was afraid to report it.
“How does someone disappear on a base that has more protection and safeguards than anyone else on the planet?”
Efflandt’s plea for information also comes as the Fort Hood community mourns the death of a second soldier whose skeletal remains were found Friday in a field in Killeen, several miles from the base.
Gregory Wedel Morales, 23, had been missing since last August.
Killeen police officials said they went to the field, located in the 3200 block of Florence Road, after agents with the Fort Hood Criminal Investigation Division contacted them about a tip they’d received about the location of a body.
“Detectives with the Killeen Police Department Homicide Unit met with members of Fort Hood CID at that location,” a police statement said. “Fort Hood CID contacted a Texas Parks and Wildlife K-9 (unit) for assistance in searching the field.
“During the K-9 search, skeletal remains were located and a crime scene established.”
With the help of CID and the U.S. Army Dental Corps, the remains were identified as those of Morales, authorities said Sunday. Though his cause and manner of death are still under investigation, his death is being investigated as a homicide.
The Army is offering a $25,000 reward for information regarding Morales’ death.
A $25,000 reward is also being offered for information on the whereabouts of Guillen, who is described as standing 5 feet, 3 inches tall and weighing 126 pounds. She has black hair, brown eyes and a small mole on the left side of her chin.
She also has two tattoos on her left arm, a cross with a flower and a second flower, and a third tattoo, a mountain with a circle, on her upper left shoulder.
Anyone with information on Guillen’s disappearance is asked to call Army CID special agents at 254-287-2722 or the Military Police Desk at 254-288-1170. They can also anonymously submit information at cid.army.mil/report-a-crime.html.
“People wishing to remain anonymous will be honored to the degree allowable under the law, and the information will be held in the strictest confidence allowable,” authorities said.
Cox Media Group